We regret the last minute change of venue for the Writing Contest Awards program. The situation was beyond our control. Fortunately, Pastor R.C. Fleeman of Peace Community Church offered the space for our program. 

The readings by the winners were excellent, as were the judges’ descriptions of the winning works. The luncheon was a happy ending to an outstanding event. 

Winning authors of the Gulf Coast Writers Association annual writing contest


Our next meeting is Saturday, September 16 at 10:00 a.m. at our usual venue, Word of Life Church in Fort Myers. This meeting is our opportunity to show off our own work and get to know each other’s talents! Select to attend by Zoom.

So, if you’ve recently been published in a book or a literary magazine, or if you’ve been awarded a prize for your writing, please bring a portion of that work to read to fellow GCWA members and guests. If you have an unpublished piece you’re really proud of, please bring it and step up! Reads are limited to 5 minutes, and the first 20 to sign up get a place at the podium. Contact Mary Charles (mary@marycharles.com) to put your name in the hat.

We’re happy to announce that Arielle Haughee, publisher of Orange Blossom Books and author of children’s literature, will be back with us in February 2024 to speak about publishing. She’ll tailor her presentation to our members’ preference: would you like to learn about traditional publishing or self-publishing? Please send your vote to mary@marycharles.com by September 30 to give Arielle time to focus her content.


 Sold out: Our September 9 event at the Alliance for the Arts to launch our Storm Stories-Hurricane Ian anthology is currently sold out. But you can still see the event. The event will be live-streamed by the  Facebook and Instagram. Even if you don’t have a seat in the auditorium, you can still meet the book’s contributing authors from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Alliance before the start of the event. 

You can also purchase the book during the pre-show at the Alliance. Contributing authors will pay our cost when they purchase directly from GCWA. Paid-up members may purchase Storm Stories directly from GCWA at 30% off Amazon prices. And if you can’t attend the September 9 launch, come to the September 16 member meeting to purchase your copies.

You can also purchase the book from Amazon in e-book, trade paperback and hard cover formats at

retail price. On August 21, Amazon named Storm Stories-Hurricane Ian the #1 New Release for Memoirs in the southern states.  Click on this link for the book at Amazon.com:  Storm Stories-Hurricane Ian.  And here is the QR code:  


Many people have fallen behind on their dues. We understand this could possibly be due to the confusion and loss during last year’s devastations and disasters and that some may not even have realizes it. David Aiken, our membership chair, has updated the membership list. Please be prepared to update your status if, by chance, you are not current on your dues see David at the next meeting or renew online via PayPal.

Brian Devitt and Jeff Bogart are working on important upgrades and safeguards to our website. When these updates are completed, only current members will be permitted to keep their books on our website and to access all the important information our website provides.


Finally, have you noticed that our organization is increasingly vibrant these days? The pandemic is behind us. Our membership is growing. Our programming is too. So if you haven’t been to a meeting recently, come check us out.

Come early and get ready to make new friends! The meeting begins at 10:00 a.m., live and by Zoom.  The location:

Word of Life Church

6111 South Pointe Blvd.

Fort Myers, FL 33900

We are looking forward to seeing all of you. 

Irene Smith President

Irene Smith

This year GCWA received over 110 writing contest entries, one of the largest responses we’ve had in recent years. The competition was challenging, but thanks to our awesome volunteer judges, who devoted their time and skills, the best pieces were selected.  The top three winners in each category will read their entries at the August 19th Membership Meeting. 

The program begins at 10:00 a.m. We suggest you arrive early to get a good seat. You won’t be disappointed.  A healthy lunch will be available after the presentations, courtesy of GCWA. This will offer you an opportunity to munch and mingle with our contest winners, who are:

Adult Section Youth Section
Category Non Fiction Poetry Fiction Not Applicable
1st Place Pamela Pohlman Sandy Dahlhofer Brad Burt Eric Zhu-West
Winning entry “A Picture of Hell” “Snowflake” “But He Didn’t!” “Right Hand Raised”
Home town Fort Myers, FL Lake Placid, FL Fort Myers,  Roxbury, MA
2nd Place Patricia Sheehy Amy Pontius Patti M. Walsh Kurukulasuriya Fernando
Winning entry     “Searching for Me” “Moon Dance” “Ghosts of Clotheslines Past” “Pretty Little Things”
Home town Estero, FL Fort Myers, FL. Fort Myers, FL Fort Myers, FL
3rd Place MaryLou Williams Grace Brendel Pauline Hayton Stormi Thomas
Winning entry “Audrey Hepburn and Me” “The Land Before This” “Somewhere in England” “Secret Miracles”
Home town Fort Myers, FL Cape Coral, FL Naples, FL Lake Mary, FL

September 9th from 7:00-9:00PM is the book launch event for our upcoming anthology, “Storm Stories-Hurricane Ian” at the Alliance of the Arts. We are very excited about this event, which is part of the Alliance’s month-long commemoration of Hurricane Ian. Contributing authors to our anthology may arrive as early as 6:00pm to purchase their books at cost. Books will also be available to members at that time. 

We desperately need volunteers to assist as greeters, book sellers and floaters at this event.  We also need volunteers to assemble the video portion of the evening, still images and video segments. Please contact Mary Charles at  mary@marycharles.com or call/text her at 718-848-4031. Mary will be at the Alliance for the Arts theatre on Friday, September 8, the afternoon before the event between 1:00-3:00pm. She would prefer getting any borrowed equipment that afternoon.

Our anthology, “Storm Stories-Hurricane Ian”, will be available soon as a trade paperback and hard cover at local book stores, the gift shop at the Alliance for the Arts and the Alliance’s popular monthly Night Market. It will also be obtainable online from Amazon.com in e-book, paperback and hard cover versions.  Pre-publication orders for the e-book on Amazon are now being accepted.

We just learned that the Lee County Library System has ordered one book for each library branch and will order additional copies if there is a demand for more.

Please consider assisting us with the September 9th event. More information on the anthology will be in next month’s newsletter, so keep checking our website for updates!

Don’t forget our August 19th meeting will be held as usual starting at 10:00am-Noon.

Location: Map

Meeting Location:

Word of Life Church

6111 South Pointe Blvd.,

Fort Myers, FL 33919

Irene Smith, President

Irene Smith

Judging for our 2023 Writing Contest has concluded and results will be announced at our July meeting. Winners and their families are invited to the August meeting, at which time prizes will be awarded and some of the winning pieces will be read.  Many thanks to all who participated, especially our volunteer judges, for their time and energy!

Brian Devitt, our Social Media Authority, has asked everyone to follow us on social media.  Our Twitter handle is @GCWA_SWFL, and please join our FaceBook group “Gulf Coast Writers Association” to “like” and “tweet” our recent posts there.  If members are on Facebook, I suggest that they post a mention of our Twitter and Facebook group, including our Twitter handle.

Brian is also assisting Dr. Kesha Dreher as the Lead Webmaster until a permanent replacement can be found.  If you know anyone who is an IT expert, you can contact Brian at bdevitt55@gmail.com.

Thanks to Jeff Bogart, our Communications officer, a notice of our July 22 Meeting now appears in the Fort Myers News-Press online calendars, Bonita Springs & Estero Magazine, Cape Coral Living magazine, Gulf & Main magazine, RSW magazine, and Times of the Islands magazine.  Jeff has reached another group of readers for us.  You can’t pick up a local newsprint without seeing a notice about Gulf Coast Writers Association.

Thank you, Brian and Jeff, for all the effort you have put forth to spread the word about our wonderful organization!

Mark your calendars and save the evening of September 9 for the launch of GCWA’s first-ever anthology, Storm Stories-Hurricane Ian.  More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks, but this project has been almost a year in the making, and I promise you don’t want to miss it.

Last month’s meeting, featuring prolific author Allie Pleiter presenting on improving productivity and time management, was well attended.  

Here are a few photos from that meeting:

These are a few photos from that meeting.

This month Bob McCarthy, a ten-year member of “GCWA, will demonstrate how to create a video presentation using MSOffice and upload it to YouTube for the world to see. YouTube is the second most significant social media platform worldwide, with over 2.6 billion users. There are 4.65 billion active social media users worldwide. This means that 57.63% of active social media users worldwide access YouTube.

Bob will illustrate step-by-step how to create a working video script and add dialogue or narration resulting in a presentation with impact, whether for sales, marketing, training, or more.

Bob has been a professional writer and editor for more than 20 years. He has worked freelance, in-house, and with partners to help clients get noticed. The Oil Heat Managers Association gave a video he scripted for a Connecticut manufacturer its Best Training Video award. Bob has had articles published in regional, national, and international magazines.

Bob has been a member and officer of GCWA for ten years, and he is now a member of our Corporate Board.

This meeting is another outstanding opportunity to learn how to produce high-quality material from a pro.

Members and first-time guests attend for free, returning guests $5.00. I suggest you come early. Meet new or old friends with whom you share a great love for writing. The meeting will also be available on Zoom for those who can’t make it in person (Registration information will be on the website, gulfwriters.org). 

The July 22 meeting will be held at our usual meeting site starting at 10:00 and ending at noon. Here is that location, along with a map.

Meeting Location:

Word of Life Church

6111 South Pointe Blvd.,

Fort Myers, FL 33919

For directions, see Map

See you at the meeting!

Irene Smith, President

President’s Letter for June 2023

In May, under the tutelage of the multi-talented Claudia Geagan, fifty-two participants eagerly wrote their First 100 Words and read them aloud, receiving great feedback.  One of the best readings came from a woman who had been wanting to write, but never believed she could.  What she wrote amazed everyone, including herself.  No one left the meeting quietly; they left exuberantly!

We expect a similar reaction to our June speaker.  Allie Pleiter, a bestselling author of over 40 books, will present The Chunky Method of Time Management, a system that will get you to typing “The End” with success and satisfaction.  This program is a mix of practical, inspirational, and the nitty-gritty real life of it all that gives aspiring or working writers the tools they need to make the magic happen.  Pleiter will be making her presentation to the group live, via Zoom, so be sure to join us in person or via Zoom.

Location: Map
Word of Life Church
6111 South Pointe Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33919

The Hurricane Ian Storm Stories project is a huge success.  Submissions have ended and we have collected about 75 stories and poems.  The book will run about 300 pages.  Robert Macomber, multi-award-winning author and internationally acclaimed speaker who lives on Pine Island, has written the foreword and well-known local artist from Matlacha, Leoma Lovegrove, has given us an original painting to use on the cover.  Mary Charles was interviewed by the Sanibel Captiva Island Reporter, Islander and Current, and Jeanne Meeks was interviewed by WFCU regarding the project.  We are excited about our partnership with the Alliance for the Arts in this endeavor and the committee is organizing a book launch at the Alliance, which will include speakers, a panel discussion, a storm-chaser video, on-stage performances, and light refreshments, all amid the Alliance’s Hurricane art exhibit.  Everyone, especially our authors, is invited, so save the date: the evening of September 9, 2023.  The closing reception for the exhibit is September 28th.

Our Program Director, Mary Charles is requesting input from members on future programs.  What would you like to see: lectures, workshops, word games, other ideas?  Submit your suggestions to: mary@marycharles.com.

PLEASE NOTE:  We are in urgent need of an experienced Webmaster with strong background skills in Information Technology (IT) or Computer Science and Website Development/Design to fill our Webmaster pro bono position.  Website Coding isn’t necessary.  As with all of our board positions, this is a volunteer position.  Experience with GoDaddy, MailChimp, and WordPress is preferable, although some training will be provided to a person with basic IT skills and experience in web design.  If you know someone with this background, who is willing to fill the volunteer Lead Webmaster position, please contact Dr. Kesha Dreher at website@gulfwriters.org and Irene Smith at president@gulfwriters.org.

If you have not renewed your dues, we would appreciate your doing so.  Your membership can be renewed at the meeting through PayPal, or you can mail a check to:

Gulf Coast Writer Association
P.O. Box 60771
Fort Myers, FL 33906








Irene Smith, President

President’s Letter for May 2023

Storm Stories is our biggest initiative in years and is becoming a major success.  With over 50 stories submitted so far, and the deadline extended until May 15, we expect a book approaching 300 pages.  A foreword by award-winning novelist Robert Macomber and a submission by longtime Matlacha artist Leoma Lovegrove add celebrity luster to this effort.  The Alliance for the Arts will include GCWA and our anthology project in the launch of its September exhibit commemorating the anniversary of Hurricane Ian.  WGCU, our local PBS station, has interviewed Jeanne Meeks about the Storm Stories project and has published a story online.  A radio version will also air.  It will launch at The Alliance on September 1, 2023.

We are still collecting GCWA Writing Contest entries until May 31st,2023.  Entries can be submitted online or mailed.  Online entries can be submitted @ www.gulfwriters.org.  Mailed entries can be mail to:

Gulf Coast Writers Association
P.O. Box 60771
Fort Myers, FL 33906

We are expanding and have another new officer.  Brian Devitt will be our Social Media Officer.  Together, with Jeff Bogart, they will explore every media outlet to get the word out that GCWA is alive and thriving.  Jeff Bogart has been putting out lengthy notices to as many of the news media as possible.  This has brought additional newcomers to our meetings.

People who attended April’s Membership Meeting may have had their pictures taken.  This was a regular practice a few years ago.  However, when the woman who took the photos retired, the picture taking ended.

We wish to resume doing this because it was extremely popular.  If you are attending May’s meeting and would prefer not to have your photo taken, please let our photographer, Jeff Bogart, know.  Otherwise, smile when you see the camera unless you are writing The First 100 Words.

The recent workshops, run by highly informative speakers, drew large audiences and were well received.

So what is next?  We would like YOUR input about future meetings.

Would you like a meeting, or would you prefer to listen to members read their works?  Or possibly diversify the meeting format throughout the year; one devoted to essays, one for short fiction, another of poetry or children’s stories.  This would help us get to know each other and make us better able to assist each other.  There would be a word limit and a few guidelines.

How about a meeting for the steps to getting published?  Would you be interested in a writing retreat weekend?  One of our members is exploring ideas about this.  Any suggestions you might have for when or where such an event might take place would be appreciated.

Any comments you have on any of this can be emailed to me @  president@gulfwriters.org.  I will collect all of the ideas and explore them with the Executive Committee.

Looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you on Saturday, May 20, 2023, at 10:00am.

Location: Map
Word of Life Church
6111 South Pointe Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33919

Come in person — no Zoom will be offered this month. If you have not renewed your membership, you can pay your dues at the meeting, or through PayPal, or by check mailed to:

Gulf Coast Writers Association
P.O. Box 60771
Fort Myers, FL 33919







Irene Smith, President